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Household Economy Assessment: Chihwiti and Gambuli Informal Settlements - October 2001

 
3. COPING MECHANISMS

This issue of coping mechanisms was not covered in great depth during this assessment. However, from an analysis of the household economies in the settlements, it is possible to suggest that the following strategies could be undertaken in times of stress:

Reducing expenditure

Although expenditure levels are not very high, all groups except the poor in Chihwiti could probably cut back in some areas of spending temporarily without incurring lasting harm to their welfare or productivity. For example, clothing and utensils could be purchased less often, maize grain could be pounded rather than ground (though this would have greatly increase the burden of labour on women and children), and cutbacks could be made in the purchase of relatively expensive foodstuffs such as cooking oil and sugar. The poor in Gambuli, for example, could purchase up to 6 months’ worth of maize by making such cutbacks. While none of these cutbacks are desirable, they would be feasible if necessary.

Increased livestock sales

This option is possible for the middle and better off groups. However, as livestock numbers are limited in the two settlements this strategy would not yield large quantities of income.

Increased casual employment

This would not appear to be a widespread option, particularly in Gambuli where piecework opportunities are already limited. It may be an option for the poor in Chihwiti, but given the types of shock that the community is vulnerable to (particularly population influxes, closure of commercial farms and crop failure), employment opportunities are in fact more likely to decrease in difficult times.

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